Virgin Galactics VSS unit mid flight on July 26, 2018.
Credit: Virgin Galactic / MarsScientific.com & Trumbull Studios
The VSS Unity is a SpaceShipTwo vehicle that transports six commercial passengers and two pilots into space, where they experience 5 minutes of weightlessness before gliding back to Earth.
"It was exciting from beginning to end." Dave Mackay, the aircraft's chief pilot, said in a statement about today's flight. "The Unity rocket engine has been working great again and Sooch [co-pilot Mike Masucci] has made a smooth landing, setting a new altitude record for both of us in the cockpit, not to mention our mannequin in the back and the views of Earth from the Black Skies was great . "[Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity Spaceliner in Pictures]
Virgin Galactic's WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft (also known as VMS Eve) launched at 11:45 am EDT (1545 GMT) according to a company tweet, elevating the spacecraft to 46,500 feet (14,000 feet) ), before you release it to fly alone.
"There she goes! #VMSEve & #VSSUnity have risen to heaven" Virgin Galactic tweeted . About an hour later, VSS Unity had parted company with VMS Eve and was on its way to space, tweeting . After disconnecting, the VSS Unity fired its engines for 42 seconds, then switched to a near vertical angle and accelerated to 2.47 times the speed of sound.
After slipping to Earth, the spacecraft landed at just before 1:00 pm at Mojave Air and Space Port in California. EDT (1700 GMT).
Tap. Another successful test flight for VSS Unity. Congratulations to our pilots Dave Mackay and Mike & # 39; Sooch & # 39; Masucci #SpaceshipTwo
– Virgin Galactic (@virgingalactic) July 26, 2018
This was the first time that the spacecraft was an area of the Earth's atmosphere called the mesosphere, said Virgin Galactic representative.
"The planned 42-second missile burning led pilots and [the] spaceships through the stratosphere and at an apogee of 170,800 feet [52,000 m] for the first time in the mesosphere time," said Virgin Galactic representative in the statement. "This region, often referred to by scientists as the 'ignoramus', is a little explored atmospheric layer because it is beyond the reach of balloon flights and will be an area in the future where we can continue to help the research community." 19659005] Today's flight marked the third powered flight for VSS Unity in less than four months, and it was the 14th flight in total. Since the first test flight on September 8, 2016, VSS Unity has completed seven "captive-carry" flights – in which it maintains the VMS Eve – and seven unmotorised gliding flights.
VSS Unity has completed its first test flight test flight on April 5 of this year, followed by a second motorized flight on May 29. All three motorized flights were carried out but without passengers on board.
Similar to previous flights, today's test flight was partially designed to collect additional data on cabin conditions during the flight, according to the company. The founder of Virgin Galactic, Sir Richard Branson, said the company could launch space tourists aboard VSS Unity by the end of 2018 and tickets are already available for $ 250,000 apiece